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UK Politics

Budget 2013: George Osborne fast-tracks care cost reforms


Social care plans introduced in the Budget will not help resolve the “care crisis” for disabled people, a leading disability charity said.

There is "no place for disabled people" in the "aspiration nation" Chancellor George Osborne spoke of during his Budget speech, Scope said.

Mr Osborne reiterated plans to speed up the introduction on the cap of social care.

He also said that ministers plan to extend the means test for residential care costs from April 2016.

The cap on care costs, originally planned to be set at £75,000 and introduced in 2017, will now also be introduced in 2016 at a level of £72,000.

The ceiling, as recommended by the Dilnot Commission, will give "peace of mind to those who want to plan for their old age and leave savings to their children," according to the Budget document.

"Helping with aspiration also means helping those who want to keep their homes instead of having to sell it to pay for the costs of social care," Mr Osborne said.

"That's what our new cap will deliver - as Andrew Dilnot recommended. It'll also come in in 2016.

"It will be set to protect savings above £72,000, and we'll raise the threshold for the means test on residential care from just over £23,000 to £118,000 that year too."

The Budget document says that the reforms should help an extra 100,000 people who would not receive any support under the current system.

Richard Hawkes, chief executive of the disability charity Scope, said: "There's no place for disabled people in the Chancellor's aspiration nation.

"Disabled people want to live independently. But the support they need to get up, get dressed and get out and about is being squeezed due to chronic under-funding of social care.

"Neither the £72,000 cap on costs nor £118,000 means test will resolve the care crisis for disabled people, who make up a third of the people who use social care.

"Disabled want to be able to pay for essentials without turning to credit. But in 2013 they are struggling to make ends meet. Life costs more if you're disabled and this is being compounded as living costs spiral and incomes flat-line."

He added: "Surely an aspiration nation should be a place where disabled people can pay the bills and live independently?"

Michelle Mitchell, charity director general at Age UK, added: "Whilst we welcome the earlier implementation of the care costs cap to April 2016, this will do nothing to help the 800,000 older people who need help with everyday tasks but receive no formal support.

"Since this Government came to power, in real terms £700 million has been cut from social care spending, mostly as a consequence of the slashing of local authorities budgets at a time when need is rising due to our ageing population.

"The future of social care is one of the most important issues facing the country. All too often the NHS and families are left to pick up the pieces when older people fail in their struggle to cope alone, which makes no moral or financial sense.

"The Government must urgently address the spiralling crisis in social care by ensuring that every older person gets the help that they need when they need it."


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